Environment & Learning

April 20th, 2010 by Katie Koch | Filed under Discovery, Inspirations, Research.

A child from a family rich in books is 19 percentage points more likely to complete university than a comparable child growing up without a home library.”

In this New York Times post, it is revealed that having more books (and other valuable resources, perhaps?) in the home increases a child’s chances of academic success.

In our thinking about design education we’ve been very focused on how to promote creative thinking in the classroom and at the school environment. Of course this is where we have the greatest amount of access to the way students learn, but it makes me wonder if there are solutions we can consider that affect the ways in which children are learning in their home environment, outside of the classroom and their peers. Without access to design classes at a K-12 level, this is the space where designers learn how to think. Many young designers are self-propelled, seeking out the necessary resources to learn about design without guidance or formal academic support until the undergraduate level.

The NYT article reminded me of the Creative Mornings talk with Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, founder of Apartment Therapy. He began his career as an interior designer and transitioned into elementary education. He spoke about his unique position at a small school where he was able to visit his students’ homes once a year. His discovery was similar: the students whose homes were organized and clean performed better at school.

How does environment shape a child’s capacity to learn? How does it impact his willingness to think about new ideas and possibilities rather than simply following a prescribed educational track?

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One Response to “Environment & Learning”

  1. Jamie N. says:

    While this may not speak directly to “inside” the home, Richard Louv, in his book “Last Child in the Woods,” talks about the disconnect today’s child has with outdoor play. Instead, their free time is filled with structured activity (sports games, dance classes, music instruction, etc.). It seems somewhat relevant to your questions on imagination, experimentation, and reflection, Katie.

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